Uniq has increased its share of Marks & Spencer’s (M&S’s) sandwich business to more than 60% after emerging as the biggest beneficiary of a supplier consolidation process.
Uniq declined to comment, but it is understood that Hain Celestial’s Luton factory lost some business as a result of the rationalisation.
The new lines, which include sandwich skillets and flatbread products, will transfer to Uniq’s Northampton site between July 2009 and April 2010.
The extra business would secure jobs at the three factories at the site, which primarily supply M&S but also produce some products for airlines, according to md Lochlain Feeley. “We have been at the heart of most of the major category developments and innovations in M&S food-to-go in recent years.”
Uniq has also been working closely with M&S in recent months to create more affordable sandwiches, most recently with its Simply … and Nation’s Favourites ranges.
Northampton generated double-digit sales growth in the first half of 2008 but saw a marked slowdown in the second half as shoppers spurned premium lines, taking full-year sales growth to 4%, said the company. A trading statement published last week, covering the period January 1 to March 29, said there had been a “slight decline in food to go”, but did not quantify this.
While many shoppers were trading down to lower ticket lines and more consumers claimed to be making packed lunches, sandwich sales had held up “reasonably well” over the last year, according to the British Sandwich Association.
UK sales at Uniq for the first quarter of 2009 were flat year-on-year with growth in desserts and salads being offset by the slight decline in food to go, said chief executive Geoff Eaton.